Jeffrey Blondes | Etang de Pezieres IV, ed. 1/7 | 2018 | Tayloe Piggott Gallery
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Jeffrey Blondes, Bois De Mametz, 24 Hour Film, ed. 1/7, 2016
High Definition (ProRes422), 24 hour loop, 50 1/8 x 24 1/4 x 3 in. (127.3 x 61.6 x 7.6 cm)
This 24-hour film was shot in two dawn to dusk takes, at the height of summer and midwinter. It begins at dawn on July 10th, 2016, one hundred years to the day of the 15th Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers’ sunrise attack on Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme.
The camera ascends the trunk of a tree from the ground to the sky. Tilting slowly and inexorably upward, it scans the length of the tree from its base to the canopy of leaves overhead. The camera then rotates in a circle, with a slow dissolve transitioning from summer to winter, when the tree has lost it leaves and its branches are bare. The camera then descends, recording the tree upside down, ending its journey at sunset focused on dead leaves at the base of the tree.
Conceived as a memorial to the wounded and dying, the film is shot from the vantage point of the soldier, first as he crawls through the leaves in the faint light of dawn, then, as the body slowly twists and tumbles backwards, eyes staring up at the flickering light filtering through the canopy of leaves. The film imagines the slow motion and ‘timelessness’ of the falling, fallen man, who in his last hours is left a vision of poetic beauty. A moment of incredible light before he closes his eyes.
This work an homage to David Jones, author of "In Parenthesis". Jones was wounded at the battle for Mametz Wood, but went on to a career as writer and painter. Among his most notable paintings is Vexilla Regis, 1947, the image of a tree uncannily similar to the subject of this film.
Jeffrey Blondes, Grand Etang, 2 x 24 Hour Films, ed. 5/7, 2015
Real time. High definition (ProRes422), 2 x 24 hour loops, 50 1/8 x 24 1/4 x 3 in. (127.3 x 61.6 x 7.6 cm)
La Brenne, located in France’s Region Centre, is a nature preserve, renowned for a lacework of ponds, rich wildlife population and misty, haunting light. In the 12th century, monks devised its system of interconnected ponds, to drain low-lying swampland in an attempt to eradicate malaria and develop arable land. Because of its isolation and dense vegetation, La Brenne has a mystical aura, and retains a historical reputation as a land inhabited by druids and witches. Le Grand Etang, the 200-acre pond where Blondes filmed from August 2014 to July 2015, is emptied every 15 years so that banks can be rebuilt, and silt deposits removed. By midsummer, when filming began, it had transformed into an enormous field of grasses, flowers and crops. Water was slowly reintroduced in October, and gradually refilled the space until it became reestablished as an enormous pond. Blondes filmed sunrise for one hour at the beginning of each month, and sunset for another at month’s end,
using two cameras facing in opposite directions mounted on a rotating motor that turns 360 degrees in 24 hours. The result is two 24-hour films played as a diptych on adjacent screens - each encapsulating one year.
Two slowly rotating pans of the same segment of landscape shot at an interval of six months; so that one screen might show a field in August, and the other the same view in February once the pond refilled.